Thames Estuary growth board launches new ‘green blue’ workplan to map out key growth areas for the Estuary

The Thames Estuary Growth Board, led by Estuary Envoy Kate Willard OBE, has today announced the launch of a new ‘Green Blue’ workplan, mapping out key areas for future development in the region and the framework used to measure this, taking into account the Government’s national levelling up agenda.

In 2018, the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission published an ambitious vision for growth and development in this area comprising of east London, north Essex and south Kent. Kate Willard OBE was appointed as Estuary Envoy by the Government to lead a dedicated Thames Estuary Growth Board. Last year, the Board set out its action plan, ‘The Green Blue’, to realise the untapped potential of the Thames Estuary, and the last 12 months have seen major progress to drive significant investment in the region.

The new Green Blue workplan organises activities around four key themes which support the Board’s ongoing ambition to deliver good, green growth across the Thames Estuary. These are:

  • Net Zero – which will catalyse a hydrogen ecosystem to meet some of the Estuary’s energy needs and identify how more light freight can be moved onto the River Thames to reduce congestion.
  • Build Back Better – which will spark the delivery of a world class digital infrastructure for the region; develop strategies to ensure those skills needed by the Estuary’s booming creative industries can be sourced locally and support the long-term success of the new Thames Freeport.
  • Places and Spaces – which will encourage growth and development in the Estuary whilst protecting and promoting its natural assets and respecting its beauty.
  • Accelerating Investment – which will develop a model for investment into the Estuary securing the resources to make the Board’s vision a reality.

In the first 12 months of operation, the Thames Estuary Growth Board has made huge strides forward to deliver growth across this region – despite the challenges of the global pandemic. These include:

  • Championing good, green businesses – through the Estuary Visionaries scheme which celebrates and supports pioneering businesses of all shapes and sizes that put the environment at the front-and-centre of their growth.
  • Campaigning for the Thames Freeport – shaping and backing the successful bid for a Thames Freeport to ensure that communities and businesses across the region would benefit from the wide-ranging opportunities it will catalyse.
  • Greening transport – exploring how the River Thames can be better used for light freight, moving it off London roads to ease congestion and air pollution in line with the UK’s Net Zero ambitions, whilst also supporting regeneration and boosting economic growth.
  • Fuelling the future – bringing together leading minds on hydrogen power to assess the requirements and challenges for delivering world-class hydrogen infrastructure in the Thames Estuary and appointing specialists Ikigai and DNV GL to roadmap its delivery.
  • Levelling up the Estuary – releasing a comprehensive ‘Levelling Up Data Atlas’, mapping the social inequalities and imbalances across the region to inform ongoing discussions about what ‘levelling up’ means and how best to achieve it.
  • Unlocking creative spirit – supporting the Thames Estuary Production Corridor, the UK’s largest concentration of creative production, and providing funding towards the development of the Thames Estuary trail.
  • Sparking a digital revolution – hiring strategic advisory firm MediaLink to analyse the Estuary’s digital landscape and using this information to devise investment proposals with which to lobby Government and digital enablers.

Kate Willard OBE, Estuary Envoy and Chair of the Thames Estuary Growth Board said: “What a year it’s been for the Thames Estuary. Despite a global pandemic and a challenging economic climate, the Growth Board has already made progress at impressive pace. In our ‘Green Blue’ action plan, we promised good, green growth for the people who live and work in the Estuary. In the last 12 months, we’ve started to deliver on that promise; driving significant investment in the region, supporting the successful Thames Freeport bid and launching major strategies to turbo-charge our hydrogen, digital, infrastructure and waterborne freight capabilities. We have laid the foundations to transform the River Thames, as well as the land, communities, and businesses that are bound to it, and I look forward to working with all of our partners to drive and accelerate good green growth over this coming year.”

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